Hong Kong’s Anson Tsang was the first player from Hong Kong to win a World Series of Poker gold bracelet and he doubled his tally during last year’s 2020 WSOP Online Bracelet Events on the GGPoker Network. Those two nearly became three when he came agonizingly close in Event #9 $525 NLHE Superstack Turbo Bounty, ultimately falling short by just one spot as Brazil’s Lucio Lima claimed his maiden gold bracelet.
It was a return to the online poker tables after an extended break for Tsang, who recently returned to the action in order to chase more WSOP glory. The current year started well for the poker pro, as he also added a WSOP Circuit ring to his collection via Natural8 as well.
“I barely play any poker after I won the WSOPC ring early in 2021. I took time off and spent most of it with my family in Hong Kong. I just chilled and enjoyed the family life without poker but hope I can travel to live poker events soon again after the pandemic is over,” Tsang revealed.
He intends to play a full schedule during the international portion of the 2021 WSOP Online on Natural8 as the close call early on fueled his fire to get back to the online poker grind. His specialty is usually the great game of Pot-Limit Omaha, in which he earned one of his WSOP gold bracelets and the aforementioned WSOP Circuit Ring. However, don’t count him out for the upcoming Short Deck Championship either as he finished third in the inaugural 2019 WSOP $10,000 Short Deck Event.
A return trip to Las Vegas for the planned in-person festival in October and November is not in the cards for the Hong Kong based poker pro for now.
“As the COVID situation has become worse again recently, I don’t intend to travel to Las Vegas for the upcoming WSOP. Hopefully everything will be fine next year.”
That essentially means the online poker grind is going to take over again to fill the void, albeit without the atmosphere, sound of splashing chips and option to get physical tells from opponents. It is still possible to get reads on opponents, but those are based on the stats provided by the built-in heads-up display in the Natural8 poker client. They have become an important reference to explore and it is necessary to adjust accordingly, especially for a live poker player such as Tsang.
There were a few other valuable lessons that he learned during the last 18 months in the fast-paced online poker environment. One thing in particular stands out, however.
“I did find out that playing online poker is by far more tiring than live poker. Normally you play more than one table online, and usually have to sit in front of the computer screen for more than 10 hours, which really makes my eyes sore.”
As far as the local time zone in Asia is concerned, it doesn’t do Tsang and other local poker pros any favors either because a deep run lasts until the late morning hours. By the time a final table in a major event such as the 2021 WSOP Online is reached, the sun outside has already gone up. Being able to carry over the a-game all the way during such unusual hours certainly showcases that his strategy works.
But what exactly does he see as some of the main reasons in order to be successful at the poker tables?
“I think I am very good at observing my table and adjust my play from time to time accordingly. It is important to apply more pressure on your opponents when you have a deep stack especially during the later stage of tournaments. Try to be more patient when you don’t have many chips. Exploiting your opponents and adjusting your aggressiveness accordingly in different stages of the tournament helps to increase your deep run success rate.”
Some of his knowledge has also been included in a new poker book that was just released in Asia. 我是牌手 has been published in the Chinese language and translates to “I am a poker player.” Including Tsang, the book includes 13 poker players from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Each of them shares their poker story, insights about the poker industry and some advice to the new players. Also involved in the project is fellow Hong Kong WSOP bracelet winner and Natural8 Team Hot ambassador Danny Tang.
Whether or not any of the chapters in the book covers how to deal with the disappointment of just missing out on an important tournament win is not known for the time being. While turning a buy-in of $525 into nearly $67k may sound excellent on paper, it surely stings to not win the third WSOP bracelet. Given that he had a 4-1 lead in heads-up, Tsang was definitely disappointed about the final outcome.
“I was performing pretty well during the whole tournament and entered the final table as the chip leader. Things were going smoothly until the heads-up play. I lost 2 preflop all-in flips and then finished in second place. It’s really upsetting but this is poker, you can do nothing about that. I deal with that in a simple way: Eat my breakfast and then sleep for long long hours. When I wake up tomorrow, it’s a brand new day.”
The tournament itself was played in one of the most riveting and exciting formats in online poker, which has become very popular throughout the last few years: Progressive Knockout (PKO). With a cash prize potentially up for grabs in essentially every hand, the overall strategy changes significantly. Especially in the late stages, the ever-increasing bounty prizes are dominating the action.
“You can see a lot of isolation plays to go after the short-stacked players in order to capture their bounty. People call significantly wider when there is a big bounty involved in the hand. So you need to adjust your calling and raising range accordingly to factor in the bounty EV. Its quite a big difference from the regular MTT,” Tsang remarked.
Since his runner-up finish, the poker pro from Hong Kong cashed in WSOP Event #11 $10,000 Super MILLION$ and was eliminated by Natural8’s very own Kosei Ichinose. But things didn’t necessarily run smooth at the online poker tables, as the fortune wasn’t on the side of Tsang. For example, he was eliminated two spots away from the money in the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship and needed to fire several entries in some of the bargain multi-flight bracelet events just to make Day 2.
The way he has dealt with running bad for an extended period of time in the past was quite simple: Take a break, reset the mind.
“You will probably make more mistakes when you are in a bad downswing. Try to relax yourself and do something you enjoy. Then come back with a totally refreshed mind as that will certainly help you to play your best game.”
That break, if it’s needed, will have to wait for a while as the international 2021 WSOP Online on the GGPoker Network only conclude on September 12. Until then, capturing one of poker’s most elusive prizes will be on his mind.
A victory would also come with yet another Team Bling sponsorship, which is available to all Natural8 winners in one of the 33 gold bracelet events. So far, there have been three champions but that number will hopefully increase in the weeks to come.